Calabash Cat

and his amazing journey

Presented by Julie Allen EDEL 411-B

Rumford, James (2003). Calabash Cat and his amazing journey. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Information About The Book

Author and Illustrator: James Rumford

Genre: Fantasy Fiction

Topic/Theme: A voyage around the world by the Calabash cat is driven by the realization that the world is seen by all in a different light.


  • Charlotte Zolotow Award
  • Gold Award

About the Author and Illustrator

James Rumford grew up in Southern California and began writing and illustrating books in 1996. James has had an interest in learning, speaking, and writing languages since he was 8 years old when he decided he wanted to learn Chinese. He has learned a dozen or so languages and it's his love for art and languages that propelled him to write children's books. He currently lives in Hawaii with his wife. They have one son. For more details please click on the links below.

Criteria for High Quality Multicultural Literature

  1. This book honors and celebrates diversity as well as common bonds in humanity. While this story takes place in Chad, it could be set anywhere in the world. We all live in our own part of the world, but the eagle shows the cat that we are all in the same world, even though we may not be ready to see it.
  2. This book invites reflection, critical analysis, and response. Children have a tendency to view their world by what affects them directly. This book shows them that each person sees their world in a different way and that there is a world outside of their own parameters. The Calabash cat was accepting and showed bravery in seeking knowledge of the views of his friends. The eagle was able to give the Calabash cat an aerial view of the world, which is something we should all strive to achieve.
  3. The illustrations complement and enhance the imagery of the story. The colored lines that are in this book represent the uniqueness of each culture, but they are all connected as we are all one. The pictures in this book represent the ancient Calabash artistry that is still used throughout the world today. Calabash is a plant that grows gourds. The gourds are sturdy, and the carvings on them represent the people who carry them. They tell a story of where people have been and what has been important in their lives. This goes back to getting your story out there and giving others a chance to walk in your footsteps, of understanding your culture.

Calabash Cat Lesson Idea

Grade Level 2

Lesson Procedure
  • Lesson begins after a disagreement among students. The teacher would bring the group together and recap the disagreement between the children. The teacher would ask the students to talk about their thoughts or beliefs about the disagreement. She would then ask the students if there is more than one way to interpret a problem. The teacher would explain that each of us brings our own perception to events.
  • Share with the students, that as the story is read, they will see that each animal sees things and answers the question differently. The Calabash cat continues on to hear everyone’s point of view. He is not sure which one is right, but listens to them all.
  • Read the story aloud, pausing after each answer the Calabash cat gets. Note his willingness to go on and listen to his next friend. He is unsure of where the world ends, but is willing to continue to find the answer. How does this relate to your disagreement? Was he thinking of another’s point of view? Do you think that that is a good character trait to have? Why? What word could you use to describe the eagle? (look in the book for clues to help you answer this question). Why is the path in this story in different colors and why are they all connected?
  • Upon completion of the story students will be able to restate the views of the others in the story, and relate it to their disagreement. They will work together to see the whole picture as the eagle (teacher and students) have put before them. The theme is that working together for the common good of the group is better than looking at things in only one way.

Julie's Stories

Audio Recording on Wednesday afternoon calabash cat by Julie's Stories